Immigrant Kid

Continuing in our very  popular series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand taken from places around the net.

Today’s tale was first published on the forum at, the only emigration forum on the net which does not censor or moderate comments about New Zealand.

I never had a choice about moving to New Zealand. I left my home country when I was 5 with my family and settled in Christchurch. Growing up here was not easy for me. I’m a bookish individual with a strong sense of identity and self and I was the kid who refused to support the All Blacks/Crusaders at school, the kid who thought ‘Brumbies’ referred to wild Australian horses, and the kid who wondered at the rationale behind forcing us to eat lunch outdoors in the rain. The teachers in my primary school loathed me and partook in the bullying by singling me out for criticism and trying to intimidate me. I was eleven.

University was probably the best experience I’ve had in New Zealand, but I found looking for holiday work impossible. I sent out hundreds of CVs. Three of them got a reply.

With the Christchurch earthquakes, I find that New Zealanders are actually very good hearted people, but I don’t like the system that’s in place here. I don’t like how everything is so localized, as if the local area is the only thing that matters, and because you live here, you should let go of wherever it was you came from and assimilate completely, as if the only good culture is New Zealand culture. It’s just not possible. People remind me I’m an outsider when they look at my skin colour and a) assume I’m illiterate or b) tell me to go home. A teacher of mine once asked my mother if she knew what algebra was. My mother is capable of teaching Year 13 calculus and that teacher had trouble with long division.

I was lucky enough to be hired as a journalist right after completing my postgrad diploma in journalism, but now I realize I really do not care about writing things that interest the New Zealand public. I find the news they want to read to be shallow, ignorant, myopic -if it’s not local, they don’t want to know. Kim Jong Il’s death decreased in importance (i.e. not top story of the day) because it did not have a Christchurch connection. Steve Jobs did because someone living in Christchurch once worked for him.

Usually, I’m bored out of my mind and if not for the internet and my ability to chat with people from halfway across the world, I’d go mad. I have more in common with people I’ve never met in real life than with people who are my neighbours.

Now I’m desperately trying to find a way to get myself out.

I keep on wishing my father had had the foresight to move to Australia instead, where there are jobs and opportunities. There are a limited number and range of jobs in New Zealand. I was speaking to an MP about the brain drain and how it was really about young people having a hard time finding work rather than the low pay. Her reply was that perhaps if people stopped trying to become lawyers and film-makers, and instead became plumbers or builders, they would find jobs easily. I was thinking why on earth would a talented young wannabe film-maker settle for being a plumber in New Zealand when they had a chance to do what they wanted overseas.

Both my brother (who wants to become a computer game developer) and I are planning on moving out of the country as soon as we can and our father is always trying to get us to say, citing the ‘beautiful scenery’ as a reason.

But why would we stay? Our parents would be one reason, but the rest of our family is overseas. There are no job opportunities for my brother here. I want to be a fashion journalist. New Zealand does not know the meaning of ‘fashion’ and does not care. It’s stifling me and it feels like it’s never going to end. I’m counting down the days until my contract ends so I can apply for work overseas.

2 thoughts on “Immigrant Kid

  1. I have similar up bringing as you do. Family moved here from China when I was 9. I have a degree in engineering from University of Auckland and currently has a job. I’m leaving NZ next April for Canada on a one year working holiday visa, and hoping to stay longer if the right job comes up.

    NZ is boring as f***, I am counting down till April 2014 when I can leave here

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